Back when my mom had her own consulting business in the mid-80s, my Grandma was her book keeper and admin assistant. My grandpa was 20 years older than my Grandma, and so he was home. For awhile, he took advantage of the local Meals on Wheels organization, of their kind volunteers, of the money donated by different organizations and the city government, though I know he paid for the meals as well. A few years later, I met my father, who it turns out was (and still is) a volunteer for Meals on Wheels. They are an amazing organization, enabling seniors to stay in their homes when they might otherwise need to go to some kind of assisted living. Think about our basic needs. Air. Water. Food. Shelter. Clothing. Medical care. Not always in that order. Air and water are mostly safe and provided for most people these days, but when you’re old and not as mobile as you used to be, getting yourself fed something more healthy than a TV dinner (as they used to be called) or a bowl of cereal can become difficult.
So when I was unemployed and found myself with an excess of time on my hands, it was easy to think of what organization to contact. My grandpa, my dad, both connected to this organization in their own way. Also, it’s a job that takes almost zero training. You go and give the organization your driving information, proof of insurance and drivers license. Someone takes you on a dry run, introduces you to the people on your route. That’s it. So I felt like if I got a job and couldn’t volunteer any more, it wouldn’t be such a hardship to the organization. So I signed up. And you know what? Once I got past the first two or three weeks of feeling lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood, I discovered that I really, really liked it. I found that Thursday was my favorite day of the week. I liked getting out of the house (sometimes difficult when you’re unemployed). I liked feeling needed. I liked the cheerful faces of the people on my route, who remembered my name and were always glad to see me. I found myself enjoying driving around and listening to music and spending a couple of hours in the mild California weather. So when I was rehired by my old employer, I asked if I could keep my route, if I could take a long lunch one day a week to do this thing. If it were a busy day, I would work late, and if it interfered with meetings or whatever, I would call and ask for a substitute driver. And thankfully, my boss said yes, no problem. So I continue to go, every Thursday, bringing lunch and a little conversation to the people on my route. Enjoying their company and thankful for them, for their grace and kindness.
Today is a benefit at our local Meals-On-Wheels, called Bay Area Dine Out, where select restaurants have agreed to donate a minimum of 10% of the day’s proceeds to the local Meals-on-Wheels organizations. The participating counties are: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Solano. If you’re local, please consider checking out the participating restaurants tonight, and thank them for their generosity in donating to such a wonderful cause. If you’re not local, perhaps consider finding out if your local chapter has a similar fundraiser, or maybe just send them a small donation. Any amount helps. Really.